Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. If you click on a link I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you. You can read the full disclosure here.
Last Updated on November 6, 2022 by Chris Panteli
Cheapest Ways To Live
Is the cost of living crippling you financially? Even if you live in an area of the United States with low living expenses, you will still be feeling financial pressures like never before.
These are unprecedented times of inflation, low wages, and high rents.
Whether you’re struggling to stay afloat or worried you’re going to start sinking, the time to act is now.
By choosing the cheapest way to live you can help yourself remain financially stable. Don’t worry, you don’t need to start living in a tent. Unless you want to of course.
Instead, these are serious options for cheaper living that you can consider. Whether you’re single, in a couple, or part of a family, there will be some great options here for cheaper ways to live.
- 11 Incredible Cheapest Ways To Live
- What Is The Cheapest Way To Live
- How To Cut Expenses And Live Cheaply
- Other Ways To Live A Cheaper Life
- Cheapest Way To Live
What Is The Cheapest Way To Live
When choosing the cheapest way to live make sure it suits your lifestyle. For example, a single adult could become a digital nomad and live anywhere, but if you’ve got kids living in a truck may not be suitable.
These suggestions cover every cheap housing alternative possible. Plus, tips on how to reduce utility costs, housing costs, and transportation costs.
Live Out Of A Vehicle
Living out of a vehicle isn’t for the faint-hearted. It may get cold in the winter, and it won’t be quite as comfortable as living in your own home.
However, if you can do it, then it’s one of the cheapest ways to live. Plus, it allows you the freedom to travel to new locations. Affordable housing in the best cities is just a drive away when you live out of a vehicle.
Please note that anyone can live out of a vehicle if they choose to, there is no law against it.
However, one word of warning. Zoning laws vary by location. These laws cover whether sleeping in a vehicle is permitted or parking a vehicle in one location for an extended period is allowed.
Please check local laws before settling down somewhere as you don’t want to run the risk of a run-in with local law enforcement.
RVs are like a tiny house on wheels. Living in an RV is a popular choice because it’s far cheaper than running a house, and you’ve got many of the home comforts you get from living in a house.
You won’t have as much space, but provided you downsize your possessions there should be ample room.
If you have a job that doesn’t require going to an office, you can live and travel in an RV.
Living in a truck means giving up most possessions and being willing to live in a small space. For many people, that’s a dream worth pursuing.
Professional companies can convert your truck into a tiny house. Alternatively, a low-cost option is to do the conversion yourself.
A truck conversion done right can give you a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen.
Van life is like living in an RV. There will be a lot less room, but a van can be customized to suit van living.
Once your van is ready to live in your main expenses will be food and gas.
Top tips for living in a van include joining a gym or campsite to use the facilities for showering. Smartphones or local libraries can help you stay online.
It’s also recommended you learn some basic skills to maintain your van. This will help reduce the risk of a breakdown when on the road.
All these tips apply to any vehicle you might decide to live in.
Recommended: 9 Brilliant Ways To Make Money With A Van
Buying a bus to convert into a living space is worth considering. The downside is you need the money to buy a bus. However, you may find an old bus is quite cheap to buy. An old bus may cost a lot to renovate to make it habitable.
If you’re looking for a unique living space, then converting a bus could be just the ticket.
Once you’ve converted the bus it’s just like living in an RV. Buses are large enough to create multiple rooms including bathrooms and a kitchen area.
Cheaper Types Of Home To Live In
Living in a vehicle may not be for you. If you’ve got a family, then you probably want a home that is a little more conventional.
You can get an affordable place in many areas simply by switching to a cheaper type of home. That allows you to enjoy the lower cost of these smaller homes.
A duplex gives you a more traditional home, but for less cost. Thanks to the building being split in two, monthly bills should be lower.
If you can afford to buy a duplex, even better. You can live on one side and rent out the other. That will give you a nice passive income. Plus, you now own a piece of real estate that will hopefully increase in value.
The downside to owning a duplex is that you are the property manager. That means handling repairs, maintenance, and other responsibilities.
A small home is extremely cheap to build. Plus, they can usually be moved with ease.
First, you need to find land to put your home on. You could rent or buy land for your tiny home. Even better if you have friends or family that are happy for you to stay on their land rent-free.
When you’ve got somewhere to build your dream small home you can get building. If you’ve got the skills, then you could build it yourself and save more money. Otherwise, you can hire contractors to do the work for you.
The neat part about living in a small home is that they’re a cheap place to run. Yet if you need to move for any reason many small homes (size limits apply) can be lifted onto a trailer and transported to another location. This makes small home living appealing for anyone that likes to move around.
Living in a shipping container may sound dystopian. But really, it’s just another tiny home.
Your first decision is finding a storage container to buy and where to keep it.
Next, it’s time to make it habitable. You could convert it yourself if you know how or hire a contractor to do it for you.
Once the conversion is done you’ve got yourself a cheap way to live. Plus, a shipping container can easily be moved should you need to.
Please note local laws may restrict shipping container homes from being built in certain areas. Always check before creating your dream tiny home so that you won’t encounter legal problems.
For example, if you want to live in a historical area, a shipping container home may not be allowed as it doesn’t fit in with the surrounding buildings. If in doubt, always check local laws before buying or building anything. Otherwise, you could waste your hard-earned money.
- Creative Ways to Buy Your Parents House
- 18 Incredible House Alternatives You Can Explore
- How To Start House Hacking
Other Ways To Live Cheaply
If living in a vehicle or a small home isn’t for you, then there are other ways to live cheaply. These unique ideas could be just the ticket for you to find the cheapest place to live.
Live With Roommates
Living with roommates is a great way to split costs. As a bonus, you might make lifelong friends too.
Let’s say your monthly bills including rent are $3000. By yourself, that’s a lot of cash. Get yourself two good roommates and now you’re all paying $1000 a month.
Not everyone likes the idea of getting a roommate they don’t know. If that’s you, then why not ask friends or family if they want to share?
Or, if you have friends or family that have a spare room. Ask if they want a roommate. Everyone can save money and you get to live with people you already know.
Become A Housesitter
House-sitting could mean never paying rent again. If you can go from house to house, then you always have somewhere to live, and it costs you nothing.
Some house-sitting gigs even pay you as well.
Usually, all you are required to do is look after the house, plants, and sometimes pets.
Rich people with multiple homes often use house-sitters to avoid leaving a property empty for long periods.
To get housesitting gigs you must be able to pass a background check. Owners are trusting you with their entire house so it’s a must that you are reliable, trustworthy, and honest.
Here are some top housesitting platforms to try out:
If you fancy combining house sitting with traveling, then check out platforms like Nomador. Here you can find house-sitting gigs abroad.
Consumer culture means it’s tempting to buy, buy, buy. That means our homes are packed with stuff. Much of it we don’t need or even look at after the initial purchase.
Choosing to live minimally means only buying what you need.
Start by getting rid of all your clutter. Books, clothes, and old electronics could all be sold. That gives you some sweet extra cash. Decluttr, eBay, or yard sales are great ways to sell old stuff fast.
Another top money-saving tip is to start using the 30-day rule. The 30-day rule works like this. You see an item you want to buy, but you don’t buy it straight away. Instead, wait for 30-days. If you still want it after waiting, then buy it. However, most of the time you’ll change your mind about the purchase.
The cool thing about living minimally is it makes it much easier to live in a smaller home or even a vehicle. Living in a tiny home with minimal stuff is the cheapest way to live.
Become A Live-In Carer
People are living longer lives than ever before. This is great as we get more time with our loved ones. Yet there is one downside. Some people require assistance as they get older. Perhaps they’re frail or develop a health issue.
This opens the door for another cheap way to live, as a live-in carer.
You will have a great place to live for free and an income as a caregiver.
To take on this role you must meet the requirements of the job. Qualifications may be needed, but a lot depends on the level of care the resident needs and what the job involves. For residents with complex needs, you may need a degree or other qualifications.
If the person simply needs a live-in carer to help manage the household but doesn’t have medical needs, then you may not need any prior experience.
Check job postings for your area to see what live-in carer roles are available. This may be a housing option that lets you live a cheap life.
Get A Job As A Live-In Property Manager
Getting a job as a live-in property manager solves two problems. You get an income and a free place to live as part of the job.
To be a live-in property manager you must be capable of handling basic repairs and liaising with contractors for bigger jobs.
Dealing with problem tenants or guests will also be part of the job.
If you can handle all that, then working as a live-in property manager could be the cheapest way to live for you.
How To Cut Expenses And Live Cheaply
Housing is most people’s biggest monthly cost. Now that we’ve covered cheaper housing options, it’s time to consider other ways to cut every housing expense and live cheaply.
Monthly subscriptions can cost a surprising amount. Let’s say you have Netflix, Disney+, a gym membership, Spotify, and a couple of newsletter or magazine subscriptions.
Those few subscriptions alone could cost over $100 a month. It’s time to cut subscriptions you don’t use. You can also use services like Truebill that do it for you.
Streaming services are starting to get expensive as there are so many of them. A top tip here is to rotate your streaming service each month.
Maybe one month you sign up for Disney+. The next month you cancel Disney+ and sign up for Amazon Prime instead. By doing this you only pay for one streaming service, but you still get to watch your favorite content on each service.
While you’re cutting subscriptions, it’s worth considering cutting cable too. Cable can be expensive and if you don’t need it, then canceling could save you a good chunk of cash.
Use Less Energy
Using less energy is not only good for the environment, but for your bank balance too.
Little things like turning lights off, turning the thermostat down, and switching appliances off when not in use can save serious money over the year.
Reducing utility costs can sometimes be achieved by negotiating with the provider. This doesn’t always work, but by contacting your energy providers you could get a reduction. The worst that can happen is they say no, so pick up the phone and ask them today.
When you go grocery shopping always go armed with a list. Make sure to only buy what’s on the list. If you can, try cheaper brands as often there is minimal difference.
Don’t waste leftovers. Save them to use with meals later in the week. A great tip to save food is to start batch cooking. This is when you prepare the week’s meals at the start of the week and heat them up when needed.
$5 Meal Plan
Let the team at $5 Meal Plan save you money and time by planning your food for the week!
To earn money when you shop it’s worth joining cashback programs. Thousands of retailers pay people for shopping with them. Take advantage of all the offers as it will drastically reduce your food bill.
Here are some awesome cashback sites you could join:
Economic research by the United States Census Bureau found the median household income in 2020 was $67,521. If you live in a high-cost of living area like San Francisco, San Diego, or New York City, that income won’t go far.
If you’ve got a family to support too, then saving money any way you can is essential.
Buying secondhand items means you can often get quality goods for a fraction of the cost.
Check out local thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets to find bargains. Online auction sites like eBay can be a treasure trove of cheap stuff people just want rid of.
Look at your local Facebook marketplace as often people sell stuff cheap if you can collect. Sometimes people are willing to give things away for free just to make room in their own house.
Secondhand items are often still in excellent condition. By giving them a new home, you save money and prevent more stuff from going to landfill.
- Direct Shipping: How To Get Amazing Amazon Freebies
- 19 Awesome Ways To Get Free Shoes Online
- 51 Ultimate Ways To Get Free Books By Mail
- 10 Awesome Local Deals Apps To Save Money
Reduce Your Bills
Reducing your bills might sound like an obvious thing to say. Yet a lot of people overlook this as they think it can’t be done or they don’t have time.
First, many bills can be reduced by taking the time to try.
Medical, car, and home insurance are expensive. When these contracts are due for renewal shop around to find better rates.
Sometimes bundling insurance plans together can be cheaper. Make sure to get quotes for that.
Employers, banks, and credit card companies often offer additional benefits like insurance. Investigate these options as you may find it’s cheaper than your existing coverage.
Increasing your deductible to the highest you can afford may also bring insurance rates down.
Consider Using Alternative Transport
Cars are expensive and with gas prices on the rise it might be time to consider using alternative transport.
This won’t be practical for everyone, especially people that live in rural areas.
However, even reducing car use could save you money.
Recommended: 23 Gas Stations That Cash Checks
Get A Bike
Bikes are great as running costs are virtually nil. There may be an odd repair to do, but otherwise, a bike is free to run.
Riding a bike means you are getting regular exercise as well. This makes cycling much healthier and cheaper than running a car.
Walking is totally free and has lots of health benefits.
The downside is when you have the stuff to carry back from the store or office. Getting yourself a trolley or backpack will make carrying stuff much easier.
When walking you could listen to a podcast or your favorite music. Just make sure to dress appropriately for the weather.
Carpooling with colleagues means you all save money. It’s also better for the environment as one car is on the road instead of several.
If you live in a metro area, then it’s likely that public transport is cheap, reliable, and safe. Try it for a week as public transport is almost certain to be cheaper than running a car.
Other Ways To Live A Cheaper Life
These final tips for living a cheaper life will help you reach your target of living as cheaply as possible.
Start A Side Hustle
Bringing in more money is a great way to help yourself with financial pressures.
Side hustles can be online or offline. Some side hustles can even be done from your smartphone when you have spare time.
No one is saying you must work an extra 50 hours a week. After all, you still need some free time to relax.
If you can find 10 hours a week and earn $20 per hour, that’s an extra $200 every week. In one year, that’s a little over $10,000.
Here are some freelance suggestions:
- Graphic design
- Uber driver
- Food delivery driver
- Answering surveys
- Drop servicing
- Sell printables
These are just 9 suggestions out of hundreds of possible freelance ideas.
Think about your skills, time available, and what you might need to get started. Match up some freelance ideas with those answers and start working.
Any extra cash you can earn will help you in your quest to live a cheaper life.
- 33 Lucrative Side Hustles For Women
- Single Mom Needs Money Fast: 31 Epic Side Hustles
- 27+ Amazing Transcription Jobs For Beginners
- Get Paid To Answer Questions: 15 Easy Ways
- Can You Make Money With Print On Demand
Downsizing could mean moving to a smaller home or using less of your existing home.
By only using parts of the home, you’ll save money on energy, furniture, and other maintenance costs.
You may even have room to get a lodger and bring in extra income.
Moving home is stressful and isn’t a decision to take lightly. Yet if you find a smaller place to live that’s cheaper than your current home you should strongly consider it.
Move To A Cheaper Area
The high cost of living areas isn’t going to get magically cheaper. If anything, these areas will only get more expensive. Some of the most expensive places to live in the United States are:
- The Bay Area in Northern California
- San Diego
- New York City
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
Depending on your job you may be able to move to a cheaper area. There are lots of great places that have a lower cost of living such as:
- Fort Wayne
- Kansas City
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
You may not want to leave your current state, but a bit of research could reveal the best places for cheaper living.
For example, California is notoriously expensive. If you don’t want to leave The Golden State, then move to the cheapest city. San Bernardino in Southern California currently ranks as one of the most affordable places to live in California.
The US government doesn’t provide a central cost of living index. The good news is that online there are lots of resources allowing you to easily find out how affordable a new area is.
Lots of factors are considered to determine how affordable an area is including the median home price, median home value, and median income. By comparing this data to the national average it’s possible to figure out if an area is affordable when compared with the current area you live in.
Another radical idea is to move abroad. There are lots of countries around the world that are super cheap. Portugal, Costa Rica, Mexico, and Panama are a few of the many safe countries you can choose to move to for a cheaper way of living.
How can I live cheap in retirement?
All these ideas work just as well for retired people. In fact, retired people can probably live cheaply far easier. No kids to pay for, no commuting to work costs, and moving to a smaller home will be easier thanks to no longer housing kids.
How can I live alone for cheap?
If you’re on your own, then living in a vehicle is almost certainly going to be your cheapest way to live. You’ll need to sell your stuff, convert the vehicle of your choice to be habitable, and find an area that allows you long-term parking.
How can I live without a house?
There are so many ways you could live without a house. Most vehicles can be converted into living spaces including buses, vans, and trucks. Alternatively, you can buy a shipping container and turn it into a cozy home.
Can I just go live in the woods?
Most land is either publicly or privately owned. That means to do things legally you’ll need to buy land yourself or get permission from the owner.